What Do Flight Attendants Think of You…and your requests?

Ever wonder what goes through a flight attendant’s head when you ask for that pre-departure beverage or to swap a seat due to a smelly neighbor? A US domestic flight attendant answers some candid questions with George Hobica in this USA Today article.  See the full interview here with a few select excerpts below:

Question: What annoys you most about your job?

Answer: When passengers don’t pay attention to us during the safety demo, it’s both annoying and insulting. We know people fly a lot, but planes vary. When you have a newspaper in front of your face, it signals that you do not think this is important. Also, when passengers wear headphones while we’re asking you what you want to drink and we have to repeat the question. Plus, if you keep them on, you end up screaming at us without realizing it. And you’d be shocked at how many people barely even look at me when I’m serving them. Did their parents not teach them to say please and thank you? And it never ceases to amaze me the number of passengers that prop their feet up on the bulkhead as if it were their ottoman at home. Your scuffed shoe marks and dirt from your shoes remain after you deplane. Oh, and why would people ever think it’s OK to cut their fingernails or toenails on board an airplane?

Q: What complaints do you hear from passengers about annoying things other passengers do?

A: Oh we hear it all, from smelly people to talkative passengers who think everyone wants to hear every word they say. Passengers sometimes ask to move seats because their seatmate is overly talkative. Almost every flight has someone who thinks everyone on board is there to be a part of his or her personal talk show.

Q: Do you treat customers differently if they are dressed nicely?

A: I don’t make a concerted effort to treat them differently, but instinctively I find myself serving them in a more respectful manner. You just know that the well-dressed passenger probably paid more for his ticket than the flip-flop-and-shorts-wearing flyer. Courtesy is important to all passengers, but our airline would not be flying were it not for the premium travelers who subsidize the leisure travelers’ low fares. And if I have to upgrade someone, either just before takeoff or once we’re airborne, everything else being equal (frequent flier status, etc.) of course I’m going to choose the well-dressed passenger over the one who’s dressed in a tank top.

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  1. For the dressing nicely, if you’re flying internationally (you’ve to dress nice also??) or is it just domestic. If so, then you’re crazy.

  2. The big problem with the safety briefing, in my opinion, is that it’s structured poorly. It begins with info about the seatbelt, something that 99.9% of the people understand. Spending 30 seconds on something that obvious convinces people that the rest of the briefing isn’t worth listening to.

    As the FA pointed out, planes are different… make the safety briefing emphasize those differences, and we’ll listen. Repeat the same thing on every flight, and those of us that travel constantly just won’t be able to pay attention, no matter how hard we try.

    • @ Tim A – Totally agree, spending less time on the seatbelt (or not starting with it) might ensure that the audience doesn’t tune everything else out! Though there certainly are those who will never put down their papers, books, etc.

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